This Disturbingly Brilliant Machine Makes Dead Hearts Beat Again

By Aatif Sulleyman on at

The squeamish amongst you may struggle to get the image out of your head, but this machine deserves recognition. It’s called the Organ Care System, and it’s capable of resurrecting dead hearts. By the way, that’s not a lazy way of saying it keeps live hearts from brain-dead people beating -- it actually works on hearts that have already stopped functioning.

It was created by TransMedics, a Massachusetts-based startup, and is currently being used for transplants in the UK and around Europe. It essentially imitates the conditions of a human chest, preserving a heart at near-body-temperature for up to 10 hours. Meanwhile, tubes connected to its chambers perfuse the heart with blood and nutrients, and a canister in the machine provides oxygen.

Cold storage is currently the most common organ-preservation method, but only works on living, beating hearts from brain-dead donors . It’s believed that the Organ Care System could boost heart transplant availability by up to 30 per cent. [Wired]

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